VMware Workstation VS Virtualbox

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VMware Workstation VS Virtualbox

Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:00 am

Anyone using both of these?

Generally, I find Virtualbox to be excellent, but in some ways, VMware Workstation does things much, much better. Disk performance is 500%-1000% better in Workstation, and also Workstation doesn't need to install the virtual network adapters the way Virtualbox does, although maybe there's a big benefit to Virtualbox's method that I'm just not savvy enough to realize. I don't know what other particular differences there are. Meanwhile, Virtualbox has a huge advantage on price.

Edit:
Oh, another thing is that it is much easier to reclaim unused drive space with VMware Workstation.
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Re: VMware Workstation VS Virtualbox

Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:03 am

As much as I appreciate the fact that Virtualbox is free/OSS, in practice, it's almost a toy compared to VMWare Workstation. With the latter:

- Performance is a lot better.
- Defragging and compacting hard drives is easier/better.
- Snapshot management is easier.
- Default integration with the host OS is better (different window modes and whatnot)
- USB device arbitration is as easy as pie.
- You don't need to install "extension packs" just to have plain old USB 2.0 support.
- Installation of VM client tools is simpler.
- Auto-installer for most popular OSes.

Besides, VMWare isn't expensive. If you're doing anything even mildly serious with it, the time it'll save you will very quickly pay off.
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Re: VMware Workstation VS Virtualbox

Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:20 am

Good stuff to know, morphine! I was wondering if the performance issues were noticed by anyone else.

Embarrassing confession: I never have paid a lot of attention to how snapshots really work and only yesterday did I realize how they do. Sheesh, what is essentially the greatest benefit of running a virtual machine and I have only just caught on after messing with Virtualbox for at least 3-4 years. That's just embarrassing.

Yes, I'd say that VMware Workstation is worth the money.
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Re: VMware Workstation VS Virtualbox

Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:55 am

I stopped using VMware several years ago, when their installer for Linux was pretty badly broken unless you were using RHEL. IIRC they also did something to the window management around that time that really pissed me off. I suppose it's about time I should give them another chance, since (as noted) VirtualBox does have a number of issues.

In VirtualBox's defense:

- I/O performance is OK if you disable the write-through behavior of the virtual disk controller (i.e. allow it to use the host's cache). Yes, I know this can decrease robustness in the case of a host crash, but it has never caused a problem for me. I do tend to run on systems with ECC RAM and a UPS, so in my case the risk may be lower than for you.
- Not sure what "default integration with the host OS is better" means. In terms of window modes, VirtualBox supports full-screen, multi-monitor, dynamically sized guest window (guest desktop resizes if you resize the VM window), and seamless mode (guest windows display on the host desktop).
- USB device arbitration has gotten better in later versions (though USB performance is definitely still sub-par).
- Extension pack installation only takes a minute or so, so not a big deal? I understand their motivation here; this was done to clearly delineate between the Open Source and proprietary parts of the software.
- I consider the fact that they provide a native package for each supported Linux distro instead of a standalone installer to be a feature, not a bug. Use the OS's package management system instead of re-inventing the wheel!

I agree that:

- Hard drive management seems unnecessarily complex/cubersome.
- Snapshot management could still stand some improvement.
- Guest additions installation is (still) a bit of a mess. On Windows, lots of popups about unsigned drivers. On Linux the automatic installation seems to randomly work or not depending on the distro and version (sometimes you need to mount the GA image manually and launch the installer script by hand, but at least this always seems to work).
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Re: VMware Workstation VS Virtualbox

Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:57 pm

I forgot the mention the really poor default settings in VirtualBox regarding CPU support in the guest for virtualization, plus the bad user interface for configuring VMs (IMO, of course).

Summing it up, besides the measurable differences (mostly related to performance), VMWare "just works". Virtualbox requires a lot more configuration and tuning, and even after that, it still performs worse.

At any rate, flip-mode, VMWare has a 30-day trial, while Virtualbox is free. Just try them both.
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Re: VMware Workstation VS Virtualbox

Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:59 pm

I've noticed that Linux guests will usually work right away in VirtualBox because the install images typically include the VB guest utilities, while you almost always have to install the VMware guest utilities yourself and it's more involved :

if you need to install VB tools, you will get a prompt to put in the administrative password and then it'll install automatically as long as you've got the compiler and kernel headers, etc. already installed, but you can generally get away with using the distribution's packaged version.

if you need to install the VMware tools, you have to extract the tarball yourself and then run the installer manually. You will need the aforementioned compilers, headers, etc. unless you've got exactly one of the kernels that are already supported. Probably you'll find more pre-supported kernels if you run RHEL or CentOS, but I'm a Debian-and-descendants weenie.

You also get better 3D acceleration support with Linux guests if you're using VB. Newest VMware has introduced 3D accel for Linux guests, but only for the newest ones, e.g. Ubuntu 12.04 works but 10.04 doesn't.
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Re: VMware Workstation VS Virtualbox

Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:21 pm

morphine wrote:At any rate, flip-mode, VMWare has a 30-day trial, while Virtualbox is free. Just try them both.


Heh, I'm already running VMware Workstation! :lol: I have Workstation 8. I just don't use it very often. Now that I've opened my damn eyes to the workings of Snapshots, I'll probably make more use of it (and Virtualbox to, for Linux, given bthylafh's comments regarding that). Also, having only 8 GB limits how much messing around I can do. :cry:
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Re: VMware Workstation VS Virtualbox

Postposted on Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:34 pm

flip-mode wrote:Also, having only 8 GB limits how much messing around I can do. :cry:

Heh. Yes, that is in fact why my latest build has 16 GB!

I also see that Newegg finally has my preferred RAM (Kingston ValueRam unbuffered ECC) in stock in 8 GB size. Might be time to bump that to 24 or even 32 GB! :D
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